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A population of microtubules grows and shortens asynchronously;

at any instant in time, most are growing and a few are shortening.

The structures of growing and shortening microtubule ends are different:

growing ends have extensions of protofilaments

shortening ends have curling protofilaments that bend back away from the microtubule lattice

7.5 Microtubule assembly and disassembly proceed by a unique process termed dynamic instability

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